With the rise of the smartphone, many have predicted the death of dedicated handheld games consoles. Since 2011, Nintendo has managed to sell almost 60 million 3DS units, while the PS Vita has spluttered along to just under 14 million, which pales into comparison with the original Game Boy and Game Boy Color, which combined sold over 118 million units, and the PSP, which sold over 80 million. Despite this, a new contender is throwing its hat into the portable ring, with an enticing claim of allowing gamers to play full PC games on the go.
The Portable Gaming System (PGS) looks like a cross between a smartphone and a 3DS, but it functions more like a shrunk-down gaming laptop. Packing an Intel Atom x7-Z8750 quad-core processor, a 16-core Intel HD Graphics accelerator and up to 8 GB of RAM, early tests show it performs reasonably well on triple-A PC games.
Using a performance testing rig with the same specs as the final PGS model, the team says the device managed around 30 frames per second on medium graphics settings at 720p for games like Batman: Arkham City, Dark Souls 2 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and on minimal settings for DMC: Devil May Cry and Mirror's Edge.
Those aren't the kind of figures that would normally make a PC Master Race gamer giddy, but for a portable device akin to a phone, they aren't bad. And it does have very phone-like dimensions, measuring 164 x 84 x 18 mm (6.5 x 3.3 x 0.7 in) with a 5.7-inch display at a resolution of 2560 x 1440 – which is a little bigger than an iPhone 6 Plus, on all counts. It runs both Windows 10 and Android 6, and the team promises other smartphone features like Bluetooth, front-and-back cameras and GPS.
The PGS will come in two models, the Lite and the Hardcore, although looking at the specs and relative price there's almost no reason to bother with the lower end edition. A PGS Lite contains 4 GB of LPDDR3 RAM, while the Hardcore doubles that. Games are stored on a 128 GB solid-state hard drive for the Hardcore version, while the Lite model offers 64 GB of the cheaper eMMC flash storage. Considering the size of triple-A games nowadays, that could store as little as two or three games, so both are expandable via micro SD up to an extra 512 GB.
With a Wi-Fi chip inside, games could potentially be streamed from a desktop PC, PS4 or Xbox One, so you could play a game in bed while the console in the lounge does the heavy lifting, much like the Wii U's GamePad or the PS4-to-PS Vita Remote Play. Other little goodies are also built in, like a five-channel sound system, a secondary touch screen and a reported battery life of 5-10 hours of gaming.
To be honest, it all sounds a little too good to be true, especially at the planned sub-US$350 price point. We really want this to exist though, so we'll reserve final judgement for when (and if) we're ever able to get our hands on one.
The PGS is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, where backers can claim a Lite model for the early bird price of $230, and the Hardcore for $280. With more than three weeks left to go, it's already almost doubled its asking amount of $100,000, and if all goes to plan, the device should be in users' hands in March 2017. The developers outline the project in the video below.
Source: PGS Lab
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